The memory of Paolo Ravenna ten years after his death



Paolo Ravenna, lawyer, writer and important personality for Ferrara thanks to his commitment to the protection and enhancement of the artistic and cultural heritage of the area.

The meeting entitled “Paolo Ravenna and his time”: memories and testimonies ten years after his death, organized by the Section of Italia Nostra of Ferrara, with the patronage of the Municipality and the MEIS (National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah).
On this occasion, all the central themes that characterized the life of Ravenna and its civic commitment were retraced: environmentalism and care for the landscape, Judaism, art, political militancy and its friendships, such as that by Giorgio Bassani and Antonio Cederna, among many others.

“This is not a conference on my father – reiterated his son Daniele Ravenna – but an attempt to gather from his human and intellectual life food for thought of a general nature concerning the history, life and cultural experience of all we”.
Paolo Ravenna was born in Ferrara in 1926 into an important Jewish family, in that same year his father Renzo Ravenna was appointed mayor of the city of Ferrara. In 1938 forced to abandon public school due to the racial laws, he moved to the Jewish School in via Vignatagliata, where he found a young Giorgio Bassani as a teacher who, as his son Daniele underlines “played an extraordinary educational role for my father and his companions”.

In 1943 he fled to Switzerland with his family and remained there until the end of the conflict, “After fleeing to Switzerland, at the age of seventeen, he was interned in a labor camp – continues Daniele Ravenna -. Paradoxically, this was an extraordinary experience training for him and for other boys of his age, because in those places an entire generation of young people fleeing Italy – for racial or political reasons – found refuge and those camps became the incubator of a new Italian ruling and intellectual class , among which Lele Luzzati and Antonio Cederna must be remembered. It was an experience that left a mark on them, contributing to their human, political and intellectual formation, giving rise to important emotional ties”.

Back in Italy he began to collaborate with Bruno Zevi, Giorgio Bassani and Antonio Cederna for the protection of the country’s artistic, cultural and landscape heritage, eventually holding the position of national councilor of Italia Nostra for about twenty-five years, from 1978 to 2003.
“The role that his love for the landscape played in him was significant – declared the historian and professor of the University of Florence Alberto Cavaglion -. Ravenna dedicated his life to the study of the landscape also in different political and social contexts. His it was a real patriotism of the landscape that can be traced back not to secularism, but to a secularized Judaism that integrated into the culture of its time and into the political and humanistic culture of Italy.The discovery of the landscape by Jews who they could see it firsthand because they were forced into the ghetto, it’s a conquest. The fascination that the landscape exerts is apolitical, it is an attachment to the beauty of the Italian landscape, even before the birth of Italia Nostra”.

In retracing Ravenna’s civil commitment, the politician and former environment minister Valdo Spini underlined that “when one thinks of Paolo Ravenna one thinks of one of the roots of the Action Party: a certain generation of young intellectuals who did not feel recognized in the traditional parties and created something new, a break not only with fascist Italy but also with pre-fascist Italy, through a structured analysis of the nation’s ills and the need to correct them. mass at the time this trend was more open to European and Anglo-Saxon culture.It is therefore not surprising that Ravenna, even within the militancy of the Action Party, feels stimulated towards the path that will lead him to Italia Nostra: there is therefore a coherence between militancy in the party and the vocation to Italia Nostra, to the landscape and its defense.The Ravenna family represents a small minority that has had an egem function one, important in the life of his hometown.

Ferrara and its citizens are deeply grateful to Paolo Ravenna and his devoted commitment and interest in the area. We owe him, among other things, the protection and care of the Po Delta, the recovery and restoration of the Este walls, the creation of the Urban Park (which he called “the Green Addition”), the enhancement of cultural heritage and the defense and enhancement of the city’s artistic heritage and the presence of university structures in important buildings in the historic centre.

In closing, the president of Ferrara Arte Vittorio Sgarbi wanted to remember Ravenna by stating how “his commitment was particularly important due to the intransigence and rigor of his positions, but at the same time endowed with a great delicacy and human sweetness that made him very familiar”.



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The memory of Paolo Ravenna ten years after his death